Did I Overpay? The Psychology Of Price Regret In The UK Housing Market
For many people, buying a home is the largest financial decision they will ever make. In the UK’s hot housing market, where bidding wars and sealed bids are common, buyers often feel pressured to offer over the asking price to secure their dream home. This can lead to a sense of buyer’s remorse or price regret after completing a property. As a seller, being aware of this psychological phenomenon can help you better position your listing and manage buyer expectations. In this article, we’ll explore the psychology behind buyer’s price regret in the UK housing market and strategies sellers can employ to minimise it.
The Role of Emotion in Home Buying
Buying a home is an inherently emotional process. For many buyers, a home represents safety, stability, independence, status and family. With so much emotion invested, it’s no surprise buyers can sometimes overbid in the heat of the moment. This is especially true for first-time buyers competing in tight markets. The fear of missing out causes some buyers to overextend themselves to win a bidding war. Afterwards, the emotional high wears off, and factual concerns about overpayment set in. Sellers who recognise the emotional motivations behind overbidding can reassure anxious buyers after the sale.
When Regret Sets In
Post-purchase regret generally takes two forms in the property sector. Buyer’s remorse refers to regret over a purchase decision itself. Price regret relates to feeling you overpaid for a particular property. In hot markets, price regret is common. Buyers can experience intense FOMO (fear of missing out) during bidding wars that lead them to overbid. Once they complete and the dust settles, doubts may creep in that they overextended. Sellers should expect some degree of buyer price regret, and understand it comes from a highly emotional process.
Strategies to Minimise Buyer Remorse
As a seller, you can employ a few strategies to help minimise buyer’s price regret
- Set the listing price fairly based on comparables. Overpricing can lead to more dramatic overbids.
- Be transparent about offer dates, expected competition, and bidding processes. This helps buyers make informed decisions.
- Share market data and comps that support the sales price. This helps justify it.
- Follow up post-sale to reassure the buyer they acquired a great property.
- Avoid celebrating an over-asking offer. Remain gracious and understanding through the process.
- Offer a home inspection period. This allows buyers to feel fully informed about their purchase.
- Disclose any relevant defects upfront, so buyers don’t feel misled.
- Stage your home to emphasise its best features and value.
- Be patient and aim for the right buyer who truly sees the value, not just FOMO.
Perspective from Behavioural Economics
Insights from behavioural economics can also shed light on buyer’s price regret. Behavioural economics studies the psychological, social, and emotional factors that influence financial decisions. Nobel laureate Richard Thaler popularised how logical fallacies and biases frequently lead consumers to make irrational or suboptimal choices. Let’s examine a few relevant biases:
This occurs when initial exposure to a number serves as an “anchor” that shapes future judgements. Listing prices anchor negotiations, so high list prices may lead to overbids.
People overvalue assets they own or feel connected to. In an estate agency, buyers may overestimate a home’s value once they feel a sense of ownership after bidding.
Sunk Cost Fallacy
Buyers want to justify previous investments of time, money and emotion in a home by completing the purchase, even if overpriced.
Once committed, people selectively emphasise information confirming their decision, and downplay contradicting facts. Helps alleviate post-purchase regret.
When Price Regret Should Warrant Concern
For sellers, some degree of buyer’s price regret is inevitable and not inherently concerning. However, if a buyer expresses intense remorse over overpayment, or it appears they grossly overextended finances, this warrants greater concern. The sale could fall through or lead to future problems. Some warning signs include:
- The buyer tries renegotiating the price post-offer or threatens to walk away.
- Buyer becomes obsessed with comparables trying to justify the price.
- Buyer requests significant credits or repair concessions.
- The buyer is extremely anxious, short-tempered, or emotional throughout the process.
- Buyer’s lender expresses reservations about the price or ability to finance it.
As a seller, it’s best to be empathetic and gather more details if a buyer exhibits these behaviours post-offer. Try to assess if it’s normal jitters or serious misgivings.
Offering Reassurance as a Seller
If some buyer’s remorse is evident, there are a few reassurances sellers can responsibly offer:
On the Home’s Value
- Share positive inspection reports that confirm the home’s quality and condition.
- Provide market data that supports the final price as fair market value.
- Highlight recently sold comparable properties.
- Remind the buyer of the home’s best features and location.
On the Financials
- Explain the tax benefits of home ownership they can now utilise.
- Discuss future appreciation projections in the neighbourhood.
- Suggest ways to add value through renovations and updates.
On the Purchase Process
- Normalise buyer’s remorse as common in emotional transactions.
- Be patient and give them time and space to process feelings.
- Remind them they beat the competition and secured the home.
- Validate it was their decision and they followed their heart.
When to Walk Away as a Seller
In very rare cases, it may become evident the buyer is inconsolable and misguided about the purchase. They may make unreasonable demands, harass you frequently, or threaten legal action. At a certain point, both parties may agree it’s best to terminate the contract. If buyer’s remorse seems irreconcilable, consult your agent and attorney about the next steps and exit the deal. Ensure you follow all protocols in the purchase contract for termination. Return the buyer’s deposit promptly and part ways as amicably as possible.
Lessons Learned for Future Home Sales
Dealing with buyer’s remorse is often inevitable, but there are lessons sellers can learn to optimise future transactions:
- Use a comparative market analysis to set a listing price grounded in reality.
- Be extremely transparent and forthcoming with disclosures to avoid misleading buyers.
- Prequalify buyers thoroughly to confirm genuine financial capacity.
- Stage the home to emphasise value factors beyond emotional appeals.
- During showings, focus on practical features, not pressuring fear of missing out.
- Be prepared to address price concerns head-on after an emotional bidding process.
- Keep responses professional if a buyer later tries renegotiating.
- Make value-enhancing updates to the home before listing when possible.
The more you can shape the narrative around your home’s value from the start, the less room there may be for unreasonable remorse to take hold post-sale.
Buyer’s remorse and price regret are understandable emotions in property sector. As a seller, you can employ various strategies to minimise regret, offer reassurance, learn for the future, and in rare cases, potentially walk away. By better understanding the psychology behind buyers’ emotions, you can navigate negotiations and the post-offer period with greater empathy, savvy and success. While buyer’s remorse cannot be eliminated, sellers can take proactive steps to reduce risk and fallout. With the right approach, deals don’t have to derail due to personal misgivings, and both parties can feel good about the transaction.